In addition to using the Diffusion eBook format to publish essays and artists books, Proboscis has also been using it to create notebooks for specific activities and projects. The eBook format allows us to design and distribute a notebook that participants in a project or workshop can fill in by hand (writing, drawing or adding stickers as they wish) which can then be scanned and turned back into a PDF file for sharing – either within the group or more widely. This ‘virtuous circle’ moving from digital to material to digital is at the core of the ‘Shareables’ concept. We have designed the Shareables so that they can be used without always needing a computer, but still providing a path for capturing and sharing digitally.
Proboscis has successfully used ‘eNotebooks‘ in our schools projects as learning diaries (e.g. Sound Scavenging, Everyday Archaeology and Experiencing Democracy) and, in our community projects as a simple means of gathering local knowledge and information (e.g. Robotic Feral Public Authoring, St. Marks and Conversations and Connections).
The eNotebooks have been very effective for the schoolchildren participating in our projects, giving them a single place to record and reflect on what they have learned from the different activities and how they are integrated into everyday learning. Over the three years we have collaborated with the Jenny Hammond Primary school on Social Tapestries projects, we have worked ever more closely with the teachers to use the learning diaries to make the bridge between the activities of the workshop and what the children are learning as part of everyday school. The diaries themselves are also an invaluable tool for the teachers and us to gauge each child’s engagement with the project and its concepts – some children choose to do the minimum whilst others spend considerable time and effort embellishing their drawings and writings. This serves an additional function in helping to assess the impact on learning that the workshop has had – the diaries show how the children are absorbing new ideas, vocabulary and improving their spelling as the project progresses.
Examples: Sound Scavenging, Everyday Archaeology, Experiencing Democracy
We have also used the eNotebooks in community-based projects and workshops to record knowledge about places and communities. The eNotebooks offer a familiar ‘interface’ and technology (paper and pens) that is very inclusive and engaging – allowing people to write, draw or stick photos into them. In communities and situations where access to computers and broadband internet was not possible the eNotebooks allowed us to design a simple and effective means of asking open (but targeted) questions and enabling people to complete them there and then or post them back to us at their leisure. We see many other possible uses of this kind of eNotebook for researchers in the field doing ethnographic or anthropological studies.
We have also speculated on using the Diffusion Generator in brainstorming activities, where the eBooks are used to create iterations or snapshots of the process in situ. This would both provide an immediate outcome to the activity, but also document the creative processes along the way.
Examples: Robotic Feral Public Authoring, St Marks, Havelock Community Mapping
Proboscis has begun to experiment with creating structured notebooks for people to give feedback and evaluation on an event (such as a conference or workshop) or project. The StoryCubes have also been used in this way – at the Enter Festival in Cambridge (April 2007) conference delgates helped create a landscape of ideas, images and themes relating to the event. Futurelab also used the StoryCubes to engage delegates at their Why Don’t You… conference (October 2007) in mapping and exploring ideas relating to new education practices and uses of innovative technologies in schools and learning. Proboscis also uses the StoryCubes as a notetaking tool (instead of taking minutes) for its own advisory group meetings, enabling us to combine the questions and observations that the group members note down in an ever-growing and evolving landscape.
Examples: Enter Conference,
One of our key aims for Diffusion is to explore its uses in places (such as developing countries) with poor access to publishing technologies (both traditional print and electronic). A Diffusion eBook can, of course, be made with nothing more than some blank sheets of paper which can then be written and drawn on – or even have sections of typwritten text pasted onto them. Once made, these unique handmade books can be scanned and turned into Shareable eBooks (PDF files), endlessly reproducible and distributable through email and web downloads.
Examples: we plan to make some illustrative examples available soon